Cornell University

April 7 2010

New Jobs, Healthier Environment

AFL-CIO president speaking at Union Days on emerging green economy

Save the planet and create jobs, too.

What might have seemed a far-fetched concept a few years ago is now "part of a framework of creating one economy that works for everyone," Richard L. Trumka said in an interview Tuesday.

At noon Friday in 105 Ives Hall, the AFL-CIO president delivers the Union Days keynote address on the theme "Building a Green Collar Movement: Labor and the Environment."

An estimated five million jobs will be generated during the next decade by green industries such as hybrid car manufacturing, Trumka said from his office in Washington, D.C.

"Our agenda is jobs, jobs, jobs and more jobs," he said.

Linking job creation to environmental sustainability "wasn't a very difficult transition" for the AFL-CIO, said Trumka, the lead person for an organization of more than 11 million workers.

"Our members like to hunt, fish, recreate," he said, and many lived in neighborhoods ravaged by the industries that put food on their tables.

Trumka grew up as a third-generation coal miner Nemacolin, Pa. Sometimes, he said, mining pollution caused the streams by his house to run orange.

Part of the AFL-CIO’s role, he said, "is helping working Americans prepare for the next generation of jobs" created by environmentally sustainable industries.

The union's Center for Green Jobs opened last year in Washington to engage public policy and to train workers.

Union Days events begin with the Social Justice Career Fair from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday in the second-floor lobbies of Ives Hall.

A panel on labor and the environment will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday in 105 Ives Hall, followed by break-out discussion sessions with panel members from 6:15 to 7:30 pm.

Panelists will be Rick Abraham, an environmental and labor union consultant; Debra Erenberg, grassroots organizing director of Rainforest Action Network, and Leslie Moody, executive director of the Partnership for Working Families.

All events at Unions Days are free and open to the public.